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Battle of the Atlantic


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[Figured I'd start a generic Battle of the Atlantic thread to place actions that directly affected the struggle for control of the Atlantic ocean. I think some of it may seem hardly related, but that will be the central theme of the thread, unless the mods want it broken up and moved elsewhere]


[80 years ago today] "• After another refusal from Göring to place the Fw-200 Condors of Kampfgeschwader 40 under BdU operational control for better coordination, Raeder goes over the Reichsmarschall’s head and sends Dönitz to appeal to Chief of the OKW Staff Alfred Jodl, who takes him to see Hitler, recommending approval. After Hitler approves, a furious Göring tries to get the decision reversed but without success."



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I wonder why Goering would object. Delusional glory hog he was, one would think he would revel at the chance for his planes to show their stuff.

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16 minutes ago, TRRA15 said:

I wonder why Goering would object. Delusional glory hog he was, one would think he would revel at the chance for his planes to show their stuff.


No air force leaders willing gave control over part of the air arm. Same problem happened in the RAF and USAAF.

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13 hours ago, TRRA15 said:

I wonder why Goering would object. Delusional glory hog he was, one would think he would revel at the chance for his planes to show their stuff.

You’re right, his decision didn’t make any logical sense.


But then, neither did wasting resources murdering millions of potential soldiers and workers based on their ethnicity/sexuality/etc., so Nazis making illogical and foolish decisions wasn’t unusual.

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  • 2 months later...
Posted (edited)

[80 years ago today] "• Under Churchill’s direction, Bomber Command shifts targets to those supporting the German effort in the Atlantic. 258 bombers are dispatched, the main target being the Focke Wulf airframe factory in Bremen where Fw-200 Condors are constructed. One feature of the raid is that larger bombs are being used, including 1,900 lb and 1,000 lb bombs. Most bombs fall in the target area, causing a great many fires. A long building is observed bursting into flames; a hit with a 1,000-lb. bomb is registered in the middle of this target and a terrific explosion ensued. Nearly seventy other aircraft concentrate their attack on the Blohm und Voss shipbuilding yards at Hamburg, where large fires are started. Impact on U-boat production is unknown.



FW factory in Bremen


Milestone: With the help of materials captured during Operation Claymore, Bletchley Park delivers the first ten fully decrypted Enigma ciphered messages. The number will triple tomorrow then become a virtual flood.


[Operation Claymore, 4-Mar-1941


• Five British destroyers escort two infantry landing ships (converted Dutch fast passenger ships Queen Emma and Princess Beatrix) carrying 500 commandoes, a company of engineers, and several Free Norwegian troops to the Lofoten Islands off the Vestfjord. The raid is to destroy shore facilities, shipping, take prisoners, and to attempt to capture communications information. The destroyers stay offshore due to the shallow water, while the passenger ships race in, following a Norwegian fisheries vessel guiding them through the channels. Complete surprise is achieved and the only shots fired are by the German armed trawler Krebs, which is sunk by HMS Somali.

- Cod and oil factories are destroyed at Stamsund, Henningsvær and Svolvær. In total about 800,000 gallons of fish oil, kerosene and paraffin are set on fire. 228 German prisoners are taken and 300 Norwegian men volunteer to join the Free Norwegian forces.

- 18,000 tons of merchant shipping is sunk in harbor.


- The most significant outcome of the raid is the capture of a set of rotor wheels for an Enigma cypher machine, key tables, plug settings, and code books. These were rescued from the sinking German armed trawler Krebs. Their capture will enable Bletchley Park to read most of the German naval codes for March, as well as decode February traffic.

- After the raid, German troops and police come to the area and arrest about a hundred Norwegians suspected of aiding the British, sending them to a concentration camp near Oslo. They burn down several houses, and establish a strong defensive fortification in the area. Additional raids on Norway will cause the German occupation force to swell to over a quarter million troops.



Edited by cardboard_killer
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[80 years ago today--nothing aerial about this battle, but it represented another turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic]


  • Battle of Convoy HX-112

• Kapitänleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp (from the old VIIA U-30 and now in the brand new Type IXB U-110 on her first patrol) detected the convoy on the 15th south of Iceland and sent off a report prompting Dönitz to assemble a wolfpack. Consisting of 41 merchant ships, HX-112 is escorted by Donald MacIntyre in destroyer HMS Walker, commanding Escort Group 5. EG5 consists of five old destroyers (3 V&W and 2 Admiralty S) and two new corvettes.

- U-110 starts by torpedoing the British 6,200 ton tanker Erdonia. The flames light up the night and U-110 is spotted by destroyer HMS Scimitar. Walker and Vanoc join in the attack but Lemp evades by running under the convoy at high speed.


- U-110 surfaces an hour later and attacks again but misses. Lemp then tracks the convoy broadcasting homing signals throughout the following day until a Sunderland forces him to dive. U-37, U-74, U-99, and U-100 assemble ahead of the convoy.

- HMS Scimitar spots U-100 that evening and forces Joachim Schepke under. U-100 comes up an hour later, only to be driven down again. Schepke is famous in the U-boat arm for overclaiming kills and earning medals. Overclaims are referred to as “Schepke tonnage”, but they are accepted for the propaganda value.


- Otto Kretschmer in U-99 steams into the middle of the convoy on the surface and fires all of his remaining torpedoes. In one of the most devastating attacks of the war, he sinks five ships for 34,500 tons and damages a sixth. Kretschmer plots a course to clear the convoy and return to Lorient.

- Commander MacIntyre in HMS Walker spots U-37 closing on the convoy and attacks. Observing oil, air, and orange flames in his wake, he reports sinking a U-boat. U-37 is only damaged however, and departs the area, headed for Germany.

- After midnight, MacIntyre gets a firm sonar contact and calls up HMS Vanoc. He guides the other destroyer in and once her pattern of depth charges goes off, races HMS Walker over the site and lays another. These charges fall very near U-100 at 500 feet depth, smashing instruments and causing heavy flooding. U-100 slides to 750 feet, deeper than any submarine had ever gone, prompting Schepke to blow all ballast tanks. U-100 surfaces in a heavy mist and Schepke considers himself safe for the moment. However, HMS Vanoc detects the U-boat on radar (first confirmed detection by a convoy escort) and quickly turns to ram. When she looms out of the mist Schepke tries to evade but Vanoc’s bow crashes into U-100 amidships, cleaving the conning tower and crushing Schepke as she runs on top of the submarine. Backing engines full astern, Vanoc pulls free and Schepke is flung into the sea, still alive with both legs severed below the waist. He thrashes briefly and sinks. Only six survivors are rescued from U-100. Lieutenant-Commander James Godfrey Wood Deneys signals Commander MacIntyre by signal light: “Have rammed and sunk U-boat.”


- While quartering the area, HMS Walker detects her third submarine contact in as many hours. MacIntyre initially disbelieves the report, but attacks and drops six depth charges right on top of U-99. Flooding and out of control, Kretschmer blows his tanks and pops up to be taken under 4” gunfire from Walker and Vanoc. Neither the diesels nor the electric motors will start, so Kretschmer signals the destroyers by signal light “We are sunking”, gets off a brief message to BdU, and orders abandon ship. Forty men from U-99, including Kretschmer, are taken into captivity.


- According to their captors, the rescued crew members, "showed high morale despite their shattering experiences and a common unshakeable confidence in a German decisive victory this year", but British intelligence also states that they had never seen "such a lot of nasty little Nazis" as those captured from U-100.

- Following the loss of Günther Prien a week earlier, the news staggers Dönitz when the BBC announces that Schepke and Kretschmer have been killed and captured, respectively.

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The Happy Times were well and truly over with HX-112. I don’t believe two Kriegsmarine U-boats had been sunk in the same night while attacking the same convoy before, never mind two with ace captains.

U-110 and Lemp are definitely going to appear in this thread again, and soon.


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I'd be curious to read the report written by Commander Tighe about the German code breaking in relation to the convoys..   Must be pretty shocking. Not sure I agree with all of the the article, but I guess we will never know.



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[80 Years ago today] "• Coastal Command Beauforts torpedo and sink the German 8,100 ton mine countermeasures vessel Sperrbrecher-12 off Ålesund, Norway."





Sperrbrecher-12 sinking

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On 3/16/2021 at 10:05 AM, [Pb]Cybermat47 said:

U-110 and Lemp are definitely going to appear in this thread again, and soon.


Talking of nasty little nazis; I have a feeling Otto Kretschmer will re appear in this thread, right at the end.

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2 hours ago, DD_Arthur said:


Talking of nasty little nazis; I have a feeling Otto Kretschmer will re appear in this thread, right at the end.

I’m not aware of any fanatical Nazism from Kretschmer; apparently the notes on his interrogation state that ‘His political views were less extremely Nazi than had been assumed’. The same report notes that two of the officers on U-99 ‘were both typical Nazis’.

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[80 years ago today] "• The US Army begins testing its first aircraft equipped with centimetric radar; a squadron of modified B-18As regularly flies over Long Island sound, tracking submarines entering and departing the Thames River.




B-18A buzzing a US Army transport bringing reinforcements to the Phillipines [sic] in December, 1940. The B-18 is still the primary American bomber, though it will be supplanted by the B-17 later in the year. In 1942, 122 will be modified to the radar equipped B-18B, with many later being further modified to carry the new magnetic anomaly detector to register when flying low over a submarine."

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The B-18 is probably one of my favourite looking aircraft.


I’m not sure if I’d say it looks good, though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

[80 years ago today] "• RAF Blenheims conduct low level shipping raids off Norway, damaging and sinking several ships over a five day period. "



Blenheim attacking a 2,500 ton steamer off Norway

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  • 4 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
On 3/16/2021 at 6:05 AM, Cybermat47 said:

U-110 and Lemp are definitely going to appear in this thread again, and soon.


[80 years ago today] "• A wolfpack attacks convoy OB-318. U-110 sinks the British 2,600 ton Bengore Head and 5,000 ton Esmond. U-201 sinks the British 5,800 ton Gregalia and badly damages the 6,000 ton Empire Cloud. U-201 is counter-attacked by destroyer Amazon, corvette Nigellia, and ASW trawler St Apollo. Over a five hour period her crew counts 99 depth charges. She is able to escape but has to abort her patrol due to damage. The heavily listing Empire Cloud is abandoned and the St Apollo protects the drifting ship. The Dutch tug Thames is sent out from Reykjavik, arriving on the 13th to take the vessel in tow. With a speed of six knots they will arrive at Greenock, where Empire Cloud will be repaired and returned to service.

  • Operation Primrose

- U-110 is also depth charged and damaged by corvette HMS Aubretia. A second attack knocks out the electric motors, diving planes, rudder, and compass, and shears off the high pressure valves in the control room. As the boat slides stern first to 300 feet, Fritz-Julius Lemp (who sank the liner Athenia on the first day of the war in U-30) orders an emergency blow. As U-110 surfaces, he announces, “Last stop. Everybody out!”

- Lemp orders the engineer to open the ballast vents. Either the engineer fails to do so or the control malfunction. As the crew begin abandoning the ship, they are horrified to see two destroyers, HMS Bulldog and HMS Broadway bearing down on them to ram while firing 4.7 inch, 3 inch, 2 pounder AA, and Lewis guns at the submarine. One 3 inch shell strikes the conning tower causing the crew to leap from the tower into the sea rather than descending to the deck first. The relatively new crew (on their second patrol) is panicked and the radio operator fails to destroy or bring the enigma and code materials with him.

- Captain Joe Baker-Cresswell, the 3rd Escort Group commander aboard Bulldog, notices the Germans abandoning ship and orders the ramming attempts halted while calling for the whaleboat and boarding party to be launched. Broadway grazes the U-boat (holing one of the destroyer’s fuel tanks) and drops a depth charge off her bow. Baker-Cresswell orders fire halted except for the Lewis gun “to keep the crew rattled”. Three men attempting to enter the water are seen to be hit by the machine gun fire.

Boarding party approaches U-110

- As the whaleboat approaches the U-boat, the last Germans abandon U-110. According to survivors, Kapitänleutnant Lemp notices that the boat isn’t sinking and attempts to swim back to her, but is shot while in the water.

Fritz-Julius Lemp with Dönitz

- Nineteen year old Sub-Lieutenant David Balme, in charge of the whaler and appreciating the necessity of speed, runs his boat hard on board the submarine and a wave carries it on to the deck where it is smashed. The crew finds that the conning tower hatch is closed. Anticipating possibly being shot, Balme opens the hatch and quickly descends inside with gasmask on and revolver in hand. Shortly afterwards, he signals to HMS Bulldog that the U-boat appears to be in no immediate danger of sinking. An engineering party later finds a leak aft but is unable to stop it.

David Balme

- While Aubretia rescues the German survivors (32 out of U-110’s crew of 47) and quickly hustles them out of sight (they are told that the boarding party was unable to get inside the boat and she quickly sank), more boats from both destroyers converge on U-110 (now code-named “Primrose”) with orders to strip anything of intelligence value. One telegraphist notices a “typewriter” sort of machine and presses a letter key. A different letter lights up on the display, so he removes it. Also retrieved are code books and a North Atlantic grid map. Specialists in several fields examine, draw diagrams, and make notes on the engines, motors, torpedoes, hydrophones, target data computer, and everything else aboard including the galley and water closets. The British recover complete technical manuals for the Type IXB U-boat.

U-110 from HMS Bulldog

- A two-inch cable found on “Primrose” is passed to Bulldog and the destroyer begins towing, but it quickly begins coming apart. A 3.5” hawser is then passed to the U-boat and Bulldog begins towing her to Iceland at six knots with Broadway screening her. Unfortunately, she gets lower in the water due to the continuing leak and the next day will stand up vertically in the water, forcing Bulldog to cut the tow as she sinks by the stern. Captain Baker-Cresswell reports the loss as “a bitter blow”.

- Several chests of materials from U-110 are rushed to the UK. Alan Turing and other people at Bletchley Park will be astonished to be presented with a working Enigma machine along with codes for April, May and June. First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound signals Baker-Cresswell congratulations for Primrose, slyly adding, “The petals of your flower are of rare beauty.”

- The capture of U-110 will remain secret until 1997.


Edited by cardboard_killer
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Posted (edited)

A little extra info I found on the Dutch Tug "Thames":

It sailed from Holland to Britain (Hull) on May 1st 1940 to pick up an Italian cargoship that needed repairs . As war broke out in the west on May 10th

this was not carried out and her future service quickly came under the Admirality. In Novemer 1941 she was stationed at Gibraltar and quickly steamed out to assist in the resque attempt of the damaged aircraft carrier Ark Royal (reporting the loss of some towing equipment thereafter). Other tasks carried out by her was the transport of an enormus drydock from South-America (Montevideo) to Tunis and in June '44 to tug parts for the Mulberry harbour used at Normandy. After 5 years of wartime service she and her crew finally returned to Holland.

Captain Barend 't Hart had seen his fair share and went into retirement!


Thames tugboot.png

Thames tug.png

Edited by Heliopause
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[80 years ago today] "• RAF Squadron 320 (Coastal Command - with all Dutch personnel) re-equips from their worn out Fokker T-VIIIs (flown over in 1940) and cast off Avro Ansons to Lockheed Hudsons. They make a raid on the Luftwaffe base at Kristiansund, Norway today with their new aircraft.



Dutch Fokker T-VIII in RAF service. The squadron will later transfer to Bomber Command and re-equip with B-25 Mitchells.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I noticed a couple of photos in an old book I have. It shows crew of another Dutch tug that served during the war: "Hudson".

I thought I post them here. (btw I discovered that tug "Hudson" still exists and is part of a museum in

the town of Maassluis. My things-to-do list just got a little longer ...... 😀

Tug crew.png

Tug creww.png

Tug "Hudson" trying to save a cargoship.

Tug Hudson.png

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[80 years ago today] "• The Admiralty is alerted that the British Embassy in Stockholm intercepted a report that Swedish seaplane cruiser HMS Gotland spotted "two battleships" (Bismarck and Prinz Eugen) and three destroyers in the Kattegat heading for the North Sea. "





The confirmation that Bismarck was trying to break out into the open seas. Taken by Flying Officer Michael Suckling from No.1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, in a unarmed, high altitude, long range Spitfire, on 21st May

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[80 years and a day ago]

  • Operation Rheinübung

• At around 6am, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen are engaged by Vice Admiral Lancelot Holland’s battlecruiser Hood and new battleship Prince of Wales. Holland had been vectored in by shadowing cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk, which report that the Germans have altered course to the west. Holland has the option to join the shadowing forces and await Admiral Tovey on King George V but decides to engage immediately, without even allowing the cruisers time to increase speed and take part. Holland’s escorting destroyers are fanned out in a search pattern and also unable to reach the battle in time. Hood and Prince of Wales head directly towards the German force. Ten minutes into the engagement, Hood is struck amidships. Signalman Ted Briggs, stationed on the compass platform near the bridge, later recalls:

  • “Then came a crazy cacophony of wild cries of ‘Fire!’ through the voice-pipes and telephones. On the amidships boat deck a fierce blaze flared. This was punctuated by loud explosions. The torpedo officer reported by phone: ‘The four-inch ready-use ammunition is exploding.’ I could hear the UP rockets going up, just as they had roared off accidentally in Gibraltar a year earlier. Fear gripped my intestines again as agonized screams of the wounded and dying emitted from the voice-pipes. The screeching turned my blood almost to ice. Yet strangely I also began to feel anger at the enemy for the first time. ‘Who the hell do they think they are, hitting our super ship?’ I thought ridiculously.”

- A huge sheet of flame rises and Hood begins listing rapidly. When the list reaches 30 degrees Briggs realises that "she was not coming back". No order is given to abandon ship and he finds himself in the water about 50 yards from Hood after her B-Turret goes under with him making it only half way down the ladder leading to the bridge. Briggs notes that the squadron's navigating officer Commander John Warrand, stood aside and allowed him to exit the compass platform first. He also confirms that Vice Admiral Holland was last seen still sitting in his admiral's chair, utterly dejected and making no attempt to escape the sinking wreck. Briggs attempts to swim away but is pulled under by her as she starts toward the ocean bottom. He remembers struggling, giving up hope, and then miraculously being propelled to the surface by a huge rush of air. He climbs aboard a raft and finds the other two survivors. They stay together and after three hours, near death from hypothermia, they are rescued by destroyer HMS Electra.

- 1,415 crewmen are lost.


{Sound was added to this silent footage taken from Prinz Eugen}


- Prince of Wales hits Bismarck three times, causing her to lose a thousand tons of fuel oil and two knots of speed, as well as leaving her low in the water forward. Five crewmen are wounded.

- Prince of Wales is hit four times by Bismarck and three by Prinz Eugen. One 15” shell penetrates her hull but fails to explode. Another passes through her superstructure, wrecking the Compass and Air Defence Platforms. An 8” shell knocks out a 5.25” secondary battery, and another demolishes her radar office. She loses some fuel and takes on water, but not enough to slow her. Thirteen crewmen are killed and nine wounded. She had sailed with yard workers still aboard feverishly working on her weapons systems, but malfunctions and damage reduce her to five working 14” guns. Captain John Leach decides to break off the action just as Prinz Eugen is about to launch torpedoes at her. Prince of Wales continues firing the rear turret under local control until it too breaks down.

- Kapitän zur See Ernst Lindemann on Bismarck requests permission to follow and finish off the Prince of Wales, but Admiral Lütjens refuses as his orders from GroßAdmiral Erich Raeder are to avoid unnecessary engagements. The argument is reportedly heated. Bismarck expended ninety-three 15” shells during the action.

  • (Hitler will become angry that Prince of Wales was allowed to escape. First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound will become angry that Captain Leach broke off the action. He will consider a courts-martial but Admiral Tovey will threaten to resign and testify on Captain Leach’s behalf if he does.)


Smoke on left is from sunken Hood - Prince of Wales on right with shell splashes


- Cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk continue to shadow Bismarck, with Prince of Wales following them.

- By 10pm, HMS Victorious is in range and launches a flight of nine Swordfish with torpedoes. They begin an attack run on HMS Norfolk but the cruiser signals them the direction of the target. They then begin an attack on the US Coast Guard cutter Modoc which is on neutrality patrol but recognize that she is not their target.



USCGC Modoc, not quite a battleship.

- This was Modoc’s third scare of the day. Earlier she had sighted Bismarck and watched the 15” turrets swivel to cover her before the Germans realize that she is American. Later in the day heavy cruiser Norfolk also trained turrets on her.

- The Swordfish continue to Bismarck and in the face of heavy but inaccurate AA fire they put one torpedo into her side. It fails to penetrate the armor belt and the battleship is unaffected. All nine Swordfish return safely despite gathering darkness and bad weather. One Fairey Fulmar which is shadowing Bismarck crashes on return to the carrier.

- Battleship Rodney is ordered to leave troopship Britannic and rendezvous with Admiral Tovey.

- US Navy PBYs from Newfoundland are ordered to search for Bismarck in the western North Atlantic.

- Admiral Dönitz orders the establishment of a U-boat trap 360 miles south of Greenland for warships chasing Lütjens. However, damage to Bismarck will result in her not steaming to that location. Other U-boats are ordered to stand by west of France. As a result of Operation Rheinübung, merchant sinkings will drop to near zero for the rest of the month.



[80 years ago] " • Bismarck had doubled back overnight forcing the British cruisers Suffolk and Norfolk to fall back. This allowed Prinz Eugen to accelerate and break free to engage in her commerce raiding alone while Bismarck heads for France. In the morning, Admiral Lütjens orders Bismarck to zig West while the cruisers (followed by Prince of Wales) zag East, breaking the British radar contact. While the British fan out south and south west trying to regain contact, Bismarck circles to the north behind them and sets course for St Nazaire. Lütjens then sends a long message detailing his plans. Bletchley Park cannot read the naval codes, but the British use direction finding to plot his position. An error in either the plotting or message describing it prompts the Admiralty to believe that Lütjens is attempting to return to Germany.

- The Admiralty orders Force H and Rodney to cover France. Admiral Tovey separates battlecruiser Repulse to search northeast while he with the Home Fleet heads north to cover any attempt to break back to Germany. This takes them almost directly away from Bismarck.



Bismarck as seen from one of Victorious’ aircraft on the 24th.

- HMS Victorious launches multiple search flights but fails to spot Bismarck or Prinz Eugen. One Swordfish never returns.

- Ironically, the Luftwaffe Chief of Staff (currently in Greece) requests an update and is told that Bismarck is headed for France. Bletchley Park quickly decrypts it and Tovey returns to a southeasterly course in an attempt to intercept, but he is far behind.

• Aircraft carrier USS Wasp, on neutrality patrol out of Bermuda, flies search aircraft in attempts to locate Bismarck. USS Ranger is ordered to expedite preparations to put to sea on her own patrol.

• Convoy SC-31 ducks into Iceland to avoid a possible encounter with Bismarck. Convoy OG-63 departs Liverpool and HG-63 departs Gibraltar.

• Winston Churchill is described today as being “sunk in gloom” due to the loss of Hood and the collapsing situation on Crete. Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden has a message delivered to the Prime Minister:

  • “This is a bad day; but tomorrow - Baghdad will be entered, Bismarck sunk. On some date the war will be won, and you will have done more than any man in history to win it.”

• Bomber Command Blenheims attack shipping off Den Helder, the Netherlands. One is crippled by flak from sperrbrecher Silvia and crashes into the hull of the mine countermeasures ship with the Bristol Mercury engines coming out the other side. It’s unknown whether hitting the ship was deliberate on the part of Flight Sergeant Allen Bye. The sperrbrecher sinks but will be raised and returned to service. "

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[80 years ago today] "• With Bismarck undetected by the British for thirty hours, hopes are rising on the German ship and the crew is ordered to paint the turret tops yellow for easy recognition by Luftwaffe aircraft. On the British ships, tension and frustration mount.

- In the late morning, a brand new Coastal Command PBY Catalina piloted by a US Navy Ensign who is orienting RAF pilots in their new aircraft spots the Bismarck and swings closer, coming under fire and confirming her identity. It is soon joined by another Catalina and a Swordfish from Ark Royal. King George V and Rodney will be unable to catch the German battleship unless her speed is reduced.



The Catalina that found Bismarck.


- In the afternoon, Ark Royal launches a flight of Swordfish in an attack on the battleship, but in the rough weather they mistake light cruiser Sheffield for the German ship and attack. Fortunately, the torpedoes have magnetic exploders. Two detonate on hitting the water, three premature, and the rest are evaded, some exploding in Sheffield’s wake. On returning to Ark Royal, the carrier’s deck is pitching up and down fifty-six feet. Three Swordfish wreck their undercarriages on landing.

- In the early evening, Ark Royal launches a second flight of Swordfish, this time with contact detonators on their torpedoes. If unable to slow Bismarck, she will reach German air cover by morning. The Swordfish attack into heavy flak but none are downed. At the same time Bismarck is firing on Sheffield which got too close while shadowing. Splinters kill three men and knock out the cruiser’s radar. During the course of the attack, the Bismarck receives at least two torpedo hits. One torpedo (or two) hits the port side amidships on the armor belt doing little damage, but the other strikes the stern on the starboard side, jamming both rudders to port. The Bismarck makes a circle and then begins to steer northwest involuntarily into the wind. Attempts to clear the rudder fail and the seas are too rough to send divers over. Once this becomes clear, Vize Admiral Lütjens sends the following message to Group West:




Ark Royal aircrew credited with the hits on Bismarck

- While the air attack is taking place, U-556 finds itself dead in the path of Force H. She has a perfect setup on both the carrier Ark Royal and battlecruiser Renown, but is out of torpedoes. She had used the last ones in the attack on convoy HX-126.

- Close to midnight, destroyer ORP Piorun spots a large ship and maneuvers to attack position, but identifies it as HMS Sheffield. Twenty minutes later another large ship is spotted. Komandor Porucznik (Commander) Eugeniusz Plawski is reluctant to attack a possible Allied ship, so sends a challenge by blinker light. Bismarck replies with her secondary guns. While reporting the position and bringing up the rest of Philip Vian’s 4th Flotilla destroyers, Plawski orders a signal flashed in uncoded Morse: “I AM A POLE” and opens fire.


ORP Piorun

- The destroyers attack in the pre-dawn darkness, depriving the Germans of sleep but little damage is caused. Cossack, Maori, and Zulu take splinter damage and a starshell lands on Bismarck, starting a fire. Sixteen torpedoes are fired at the battleship from long range, but all miss. U-556 observes some of this in the poor weather and is nearly run down by a destroyer but can do nothing. U-73 also spots the action but cannot get into attack position on any of the maneuvering destroyers.

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Posted (edited)

[80 years ago today] "• British battleships King George V and Rodney and the cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire open fire on the Bismarck in the morning, the German ship concentrates its fire on the Rodney, but scores no hits during the battle. After about fifteen minutes, a 16" shell from the Rodney disables both forward 15” turrets while an 8" shell from Norfolk goes into the command tower, knocking out the gun directors there. One or both of these reportedly inflict heavy casualties including both Lütjens and Lindemann, though survivor stories conflict. About 45 minutes after the battle began, the last of Bismarck’s guns are knocked out, but the British ships continue to fire as the crew are neither striking her colours nor abandoning ship. Rodney closes to point blank range and launches two 24.5” Mark-I torpedoes, one of which hits, the only time one battleship has torpedoed another.



Torpedo room aboard HMS Rodney.

- Fregattenkapitän Hans Oels, the First Officer, gives the order to scuttle and abandon ship. As Bismarck is settling with a list to port Dorsetshire puts two torpedoes into her starboard side. The cruiser circles and fires one more into her port side. She capsizes sinks a few minutes later in 17,500 feet of water.

- The British have expended more than seven hundred 14” and 16” shells and two thousand 5.25”, 6”, and 8” shells.

- Of the 2,100 men aboard, an estimated 800 make it into the water. Dorsetshire picks up 86 and destroyer Maori another 25. At that point a submarine alarm is given and the ships have to speed off, leaving hundreds of desperate men floundering in the water. U-74 will locate three survivors in a debris field of bodies, and the following day weather ship Sachsenwald will find two more. The Spanish heavy cruiser Canarias departs El Ferrol to search for survivors but will find only bodies.



Bismarck sinking - seen from HMS Dorsetshire

Edited by cardboard_killer
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[80 years ago today] "• OB-327 departs Liverpool with the first catapult fighter equipped merchantman in a convoy, carrying a single Fairey Fulmar. No opportunity for launch against German aircraft will present itself.



A Hawker Hurricane on merchant catapult (couldn't find a picture of a Fulmer)

• German Ju-88s (or He-111s depending on source) sink destroyer HMS Mashona off the west coast of Ireland when a bomb is dropped that penetrates No. 1 boiler room and blows out her side, causing her to capsize. There are 46 killed in the sinking. She had been part of battleship Rodney's escort and detached to refuel.


HMS Mashona sinking. The survivors are picked up by HMCS St Clair and HMS Tartar, though several later perish from hypothermia. "


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[80 years ago today] "• Auxiliary aircraft carrier USS Long Island is commissioned at Newport News, Virginia. Converted from Maritime Commission C-3 type freighter Mormacmail in just 67 working days, Long Island is the first of what will come to be classified as “escort carriers” that will prove invaluable in the prosecution of the war in both Atlantic and Pacific theaters.



USS Long Island in November, 1941"

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[80 years ago today] "• Having obtained fluent Enigma information for June, the Admiralty debates what to do with it. Some officers urge attacks on U-boats since their positions are now known, but it is pointed out that this would undoubtedly convince the Germans that their communications are compromised. Since surface ships can be more easily located by an aircraft sent to the known location, it is decided to take out the network of supply ships intended to support the Bismarck and armed merchant cruisers, and now being used to refuel and reprovision U-boats. The Admiralty will also route convoys around concentrations of U-boats. Today, light cruisers Aurora and Kenya surprise the tanker Belchen while it is refueling U-93 in the Greenland Gap. After the tanker scuttles, the U-boat picks up all fifty crewmen, then has to RTB due to overcrowding. Over the next three weeks:

  • - Armed merchant cruiser HMS Esperance Bay will intercept and prompt the Gonzenheim to scuttle in the North Atlantic.
  • - Heavy cruiser London and destroyer Brilliant will intercept the 9,900 ton tanker Esso Hamburg and the 9,800 ton tanker Egerland midway between South America and West Africa. Both ships scuttle, though the British get aboard Egerland before she goes under.


  • Egerland scuttling. Interrogation of the crew reveals to the British for the first time that an ‘interned’ German tanker is supplying U-boats from the Canary Islands.
  • - Ocean Boarding Vessel HMS Marsdale will surprise and board the 9,000 ton Gedania off the Spanish coast, capturing her after a gunfight aboard in which several Germans are killed. Enigma and other classified materials are captured. The tanker will be put into service as the Empire Garden.
  • - Light cruiser Sheffield will cause the Friedrich Breme to scuttle off Morocco.
  • - Swordfish from HMS Eagle will torpedo and sink the supply ship Elbe in the Central Atlantic.
  • - Swordfish from HMS Eagle will bomb and strafe the 10,700 ton Lothringen and the tanker surrenders to the aircraft, allowing light cruiser Dunedin to close and board her. She will be put into service as the Empire Salvage.


  • HMS Dunedin alongside Lothringen
  • - Heavy cruiser London will prompt the Babitonga to scuttle off Portugal.
  • - Ocean Boarding Vessel Marsdale will attempt to capture the Alstertor southwest of Spain but she will scuttle.

- The loss of these support ships will be a real blow to the ability of the Germans to maintain submarines on station in the lucrative West African waters and in the western North Atlantic. Off Africa alone, with such refueling and replenishing, a mere seven Type IX boats plus the ex-Turkish UA had sunk 72 ships massing 387,700 tons with no losses. Dönitz will not see these supply ship losses as coincidental, but he will be once again assured that Enigma is absolutely impenetrable and his communications are secure. Unable to order the codes changed, Dönitz institutes a replacement of the grid-square map with a set of reference points. Instead of ordering a boat to “AL-21”, the boat would be ordered to a point bearing 133 degrees and 230 kilometers from “Point Oskar”. Boats are to report their positions in the same manner. Allied decryptions are unable to place these points, but the system is difficult for the U-boat skippers to use and errors often send boats to the wrong place. "

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Posted (edited)

[80 years ago today] "• Auxiliary Anti-aircraft ship HMS Springbank makes the first combat launch of a catapult fighter, sending a Fulmar to intercept a Focke Wulf Condor that has located HX-129. The German aircraft is able to evade and the Fulmar lands at Belfast.




HMS Springbank with a Fulmar"

Edited by cardboard_killer
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[80 years ago today] "• Having just completed repairs from being torpedoed by HMS Spearfish 14 months earlier, heavy cruiser Lützow is in the Skagerrak outbound for an Atlantic raid, covered by Luftwaffe Bf-110s and five destroyers. U-79 and U-556 have been placed in the Denmark Strait to support her breakout. A Coastal Command Beaufort infiltrates the Luftwaffe cover and gives the proper recognition light signal (probably obtained through Bletchley Park’s penetration of Luftwaffe Enigma). The aircraft suddenly swoops down and releases its torpedo, escaping the surprised flak gunners and the Luftwaffe escort. Lützow is hit portside aft and takes on an immediate list with electricity and engines out. Other Beauforts and Beaufighters attack the Lützow but no further hits are made and one aircraft is lost.

- After a dark night of desperate damage control, the 21° list is slowly corrected, and she returns to Kiel on one engine for another seven months of repairs.



Schwerer Kreuzer Lützow after being torpedoed in 1940 or in 1941



Beaufort crew that torpedoed Lützow"

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[80 years ago today] "• With the transfer of many fighters to the Soviet borders, the RAF steps up hazardous anti-shipping strikes against German coastal shipping from Norway to France. The below Blenheim IV from No.21 Squadron crashes northwest of Wilhelmshaven after clipping its wing on the ship being attacked. The crew will be buried in Boulogne.



Blenheim lost 16 June 41 "

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  • 2 weeks later...

[80 years ago today] "• U-Boats reattack SL-78 west of the Canary Islands when the Freetown based escort group is handing it over to the Gibraltar based group. Two British and two Greek steamers are sunk.

• U-69 refuels from tanker Corrientes in the Canary Islands on its way back to France. Kapitänleutnant Jost Metzler is expecting a courts-martial on return for sinking the American ship Robin Moor but Dönitz awards him with a Ritterkreuz for a well executed patrol. 342852879_MeetingaU-boat.jpg.8b2a52a2d7277280a2f7840faf31cbf5.jpg

Dönitz meeting a U-Boat on its return in June, 1941.

• U-564 torpedoes and sinks the Icelandik 1,200 ton Hekla off the Greenland coast. Fourteen are killed. Seven survive for ten days in a raft before being picked up by corvette HMS Candytuft. One of them dies aboard her and another requires six months in the hospital.

• U-651 attacks HX-133 and sinks the British 6,300 ton Grayburn. The next ship in line, tanker Anadara runs over U-651. She is partially crushed and forced to the surface where she sinks under the gunfire of escorts. All of the crew are captured. After initially crediting the escorts, the Admiralty gives credit to the tanker Anadara. This is the first U-boat credited to a merchant ship.

- Interrogation of the crew of U-651 reveals the declining experience levels of the crew. The Admiralty report concludes with the three Midshipmen captured:

  • “They were scarcely of the Officer class; had been educated in the Nazi creed from the age of about twelve or thirteen and were consequently almost illiterate, and lacking any personality whatsoever; they had no knowledge of history, and not even a smattering of English or French; they gave the impression of only having learnt a little reading and less writing.”
  • “Their conversation consisted of propaganda quotations which they did not fully understand, and which they frequently introduced in the wrong place. They had apparently had very little home-life or parental influence, and later, only inadequate naval training; they did not even know how to stand to attention, nor how to address a superior officer. “
  • “The deterioration since the beginning of the war in the type of U-Boat officer was more marked in the case of “U 651″ than in any batch of naval prisoners recently examined.”

- Although the British will criticise the Canadian escort group for losing five ships from HX-133, Dönitz is disappointed. The loss of two U-boats with a third crippled is an unacceptable loss ratio. He needs tankers to maintain more boats on station for larger packs, and the Type XIV boats will not be available for a long time. Accordingly, he gets Raeder’s agreement to convert UA and the Type XB minelayers to provisional u-tankers.

• U-103 torpedoes and sinks the Italian 6,600 ton Ernani which is attempting to run the British blockade and reach Bordeaux. Korvettenkäpitan Viktor Schütze does not believe the survivors when they claim to be Italian, and is not reprimanded as he was unaware of the blockade runner’s attempt."

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[80 years ago today] "• A Coastal Command Hudson of No. 233 Squadron shoots down a Focke-Wulf Condor that is shadowing a convoy off Ireland. The crew is rescued by one of the escorts.



Downed Fw-200 with the convoy in the distance.

• The RAF reports that in the last week, Coastal Command flew 364 patrol sorties and 264 convoy escort sorties. Fighter Command flew 1,476 shipping protection sorties. "



Fw 200 C-2 W.Nr. 0026 "F8+CH", 1./KG 40, Bordeaux, before 24 July 1941, the date when it was shot down with all its crew near Ireland.

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[80 years ago today] "• Convoy SL-81 had been located by a Focke Wulf Condor in the Southwestern Approaches the day before, and homing signals broadcast to bring in U-Boats. Today another Condor arrives overhead in the morning. Catapult Armed Mechantman Maplin launches Flight Lieutenant Everett from No. 804 Squadron, who shoots down the German aircraft. This is the first success of the CAM system with its “Hurricat”. The pilot ditches successfully and barely escapes the Hurricane which sinks immediately. Unfortunately, the U-Boats have already homed in on the convoy.

- Ten U-Boats attack the formation, which is defended by nine corvettes. Three destroyers (the Dutch Campbeltown, Norwegian St Albans, and British Wanderer) were detached from OG-70 the night before and proceeded to SL-81 at high speed. In a defeat for Dönitz, the escorts skillfully thwart all approaches by the U-Boats and no torpedoes are fired. U-401 is sunk by St Albans and corvette HMS Hydrangea and U-565 is damaged.

- Reinforced, the U-boats will make another assault in two days.894213162_HurricatlaunchfromCAM.jpg.dba2ef788ace71c74f4d4c3d456cf086.jpg

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Allied and Neutral ship tonnage sunk by German and Italian submarines (#ships, GRT)

Sep39 48/178,621
Oct39 33/156,156
Nov39 27/72,721
Dec39 39/101,823

Tot39 147 (36.75/month)/509,321 (127,330.25/month)

British merchant ship construction capacity from 1939-1941 did not exceed 1.2 million GRT per year.
US merchant ship construction in 1939 was 0.242 million GRT.

Number of U-Boat patrols (combat patrols only, does not include tanker/resupply missions)/losses/aborts prior to contact in principle theaters (North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and the Americas)

Aug39 19/2
Sep39 3/0
Oct39 13/3
Nov39 10/1/1
Dec39 5/1/1

Tot39 50/7/2 (an average of 10 patrols per month and 14% lost)

Thus for 1939, an average of 2.94 ships were sunk per patrol and one U-Boat was lost per 21 ships sunk (note that throughout these averages will be slightly inflated since they do not include the minor contribution of the Italian submarine fleet.)


Allied and Neutral ship tonnage sunk by German and Italian submarines (#ships, GRT)

Jan40 53/163,029
Feb40 50/182,369
Mar40 26/69,826
Apr40 6/30,927
May40 14/61,635
Jun40 66/375,069
Jul40 41/301,975
Aug40 56/288,180
Sep40 60/288,180
Oct40 66/363,267
Nov40 36/181,695
Dec40 46/256,310

Tot40 520 (43.33/month)/2,462,867 (205,238.91/month)
US merchant ship construction for 1940 was about 0.5 million GRT.

Number of U-Boat patrols (combat patrols only, does not include tanker/resupply missions)/losses/aborts prior to contact in principle theaters (North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and the Americas)

Jan40 8/2
Feb40 10/3
Mar40 10/2
Apr40 19/3
May40 8/0/2
Jun40 18/3/1
Jul40 4/0
Aug40 16/2/1
Sep40 12/0
Oct40 13/2
Nov40 14/1
Dec40 6/0

Tot40 138/18/3 (an average of 11.5 patrols per month and 13% lost)

Thus for 1940, an average of 3.77 ships were sunk per patrol and one U-Boat was lost per 28.89 ships sunk.


Allied and Neutral ship tonnage sunk by German and Italian submarines (#ships, GRT)

Jan41 23/129,711
Feb41 47/254,118
Mar41 41/236,549
Apr41 41/239,719
May41 63/362,268
Jun41 66/325,817
Jul41 26/112,624
Aug41 27/85,603
Sep41 57/212,237
Oct41 28/170,786
Nov41 15/76,056
Dec41 23/93,226

Tot41 457 (38.08/month)/2,298,714 (191,559.5/month)
US merchant ship construction 1941 0.804 million GRT

Number of U-Boat patrols (combat patrols only, does not include tanker/resupply missions)/losses/aborts prior to contact in principle theaters (North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and the Americas)

Jan41 10/0
Feb41 18/3/2
Mar41 15/3/3
Apr41 14/2/2
May41 21/0/2
Jun41 22/2/3
Jul41 24/1/9
Aug41 42/5/9
Sep41 38/0/2
Oct41 37/0/6
Nov 41 27/5/5
Dec41 49/4/6

Tot 41 287/25/49 (an average of 23.9 patrols sailing per month and 8.7% lost)

Thus for 1941, an average of 1.59 ships were sunk per patrol and one U-Boat was lost per 18.28 ships sunk.


Allied and Neutral ship tonnage sunk by German and Italian submarines (#ships, GRT)

Jan42 56/310,224
Feb42 72/429,255
Mar42 93/507,514
Apr42 81/418,161
May42 129/616,835
Jun42 136/636,926
Jul42 96/467,051
Aug42 117/587,245
Sep42 96/461,794
Oct42 89/583,690
Nov42 126/802,160
Dec42 64/337,618

Tot42 1,155 (96.25/month)/6,158,473 (513,206.08/month)
British and Canadian merchant ship construction 1942 1.8 million GRT
US merchant ship construction 1942 5.433 million GRT

Number of U-Boat patrols (combat patrols only, does not include tanker/resupply missions)/losses/aborts prior to contact in principle theaters (North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and the Americas)

Jan42 50/2/5
Feb42 29/3/2
Mar42 32/2
Apr42 37/2/2
May42 23/3
Jun42 39/9/5
Jul42 45/7/3
Aug42 58/10/4
Sep42 52/8/8
Oct42 62/6/10
Nov42 54/8/6
Dec42 59/8/7

Tot42 540/68/57 (an average of 45 patrols sailing per month and 12.6% lost)

Thus for 1942, an average of 2.14 ships were sunk per patrol and one U-Boat was lost per 16.99 ships sunk.


Allied and Neutral ship tonnage sunk by German and Italian submarines (#ships, GRT)

Jan43 44/307,196
Feb43 67/362,081
Mar43 110/633,731
Apr43 50/287,137
May43 46/237,182
Jun43 17/76,090
Jul43 46/237,777
Aug43 20/92,443
Sep43 16/98,852
Oct43 20/91,295
Nov43 9/30,726
Dec43 8/55,794

Tot43 452 (37.67/month)/2,510,304 (209,192/month)
US merchant ship construction 1943 13.081 million GRT

Number of U-Boat patrols (combat patrols only, does not include tanker/resupply missions)/losses/aborts prior to contact in principle theaters (North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and the Americas)

Jan43 61/13/11
Feb43 72/8/9
Mar43 59/16/10
Apr43 95/35/18
May43 55/23/9
Jun43 46/23/9
Jul43 39/27/7 (49 total patrols of all types)
Aug43 33/12/6
Sep43 32/11/10
Oct43 62/23/9
Nov43 36/9/4
Dec43 31/10/2

Tot43 621/210/104 (an average of 51.75 patrols sailing per month and 33.8% lost)

Thus for 1943, an average of 0.73 ships were sunk per patrol and one U-Boat was lost per 2.15 ships sunk.

So, overall, the most successful year for the U-Boats was 1940, before the expansion of the force allowed for an increase of more than about a dozen patrols sailing per month, and well prior to the entry of the US and its shipbuilding capacity into the war. Worse, the performance of the U-Boat force in 1941 and 1942 never exceeded its performance in the first months of the war. And, after 1943 the U-Boat campaign became ever less relevent to the outcome of the war.

Allied and Neutral ship tonnage sunk by German and Italian submarines (#ships, GRT)


Tot44 125/663,308


Tot45 63/284,476

US merchant ship construction for 1944 was 12.257 million GRT
US merchant ship construction for 1945 (through 1 May) was 3.548 million GRT

U-Boat Fleet to 1Sep42
On 19Aug39 there were 57 U-Boats in commission, 20 sea-going U-Boats and 18 ‘ducks’ were fully ready to put to sea
Total number U-Boats deployed to 1Sep42 275
Total number lost 94
Total number retired 10
Total number available 171

U-Boat Fleet 1Sep42 to 1May45
Total number deployed 1Sep42 to 1May45 531
Total number lost 1Sep42 to 1May45 568


British controlled merchant shipping over 1,600 GRT (number/in thousands of gross tons)
3Sep39 2,999/17,784
30Sep40 3,75721,373
30Sep41 3,608/20,552
31Dec41 3,616/20,693


Thus, despite the ‘success’ of the U-Boat force in 1940 (relative to its performance in 1941 and 1942) it had no appreciable effect in reducing the size of the British merchant fleet.


Numbers of ships arriving and losses in North Atlantic convoys inbound to Britain (ships arriving/losses)

1939 700/5 (.71%)
1940 5,434/133 ((2.5%)
1941 5,923/153 (2.6%)
1942 4,798/80 (1.7%)
1943 5,667/87 (1.5%)
1944 7,410/8 (0.1%)


The operational U-Boat force from 1943-1945 never approached a "steady 400-500 boat[s]." Rather, during 1942 the peak strength of boats assigned to combat flotillas (including those under repair for combat-damage and breakdowns, but excluding those assigned to school flotillas, experimental projects, or otherwise retired from combat) was 202, during November. The low in 1942 was 89 in January. The average monthly strength during 1942 was 143.83. The strength of the force peaked in May 1943 at 237. It had declined to a low of 159 by November. Average monthly strength during 1943 was 197.58. The peak strength during 1944 was 168 in February, the low was 146 in November. Average monthly strength in 1944 was 157.83. The peak strength in 1945 was April with 165, the low was May with 134, prior to the surrender. <http://www.onwar.com/ubb/smile.gif>


At that, these were much better than 1939 (average of 19.5 monthly), 1940 (average of 18.75 monthly) and 1941 (average of 47.5 monthly). OTOH, the 'bang for their buck' was probably highest in 1940, which was also arguably the U-Boats most 'successful' year in terms of ships sunk per patrol and U-Boats lost per ship sunk (see my previous reply).

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[80 years ago today] "• USS Wasp launches thirty P-40B and C fighters and three PT-13 trainers of the Army's 33rd Pursuit squadron which fly to Iceland. This allows the RAF squadron of Mark-I Hurricanes on the island to be disbanded and the pilots transferred to other squadrons with newer aircraft.


Curtiss P-40C in Iceland



Stearman PT-13 - not in Iceland"


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  • 3 weeks later...

[80 years ago] "• U-570 is on her maiden patrol, about eighty miles south of Iceland, attempting to locate SC-40. After being submerged to give his crew respite from seasickness in the heavy weather, Kapitänleutnant Hans-Joachim Rahmlow surfaces directly beneath a Coastal Command Hudson of No 269 Squadron out of Kaldaðarnes, Iceland. Rahmlow crash dives but the Hudson straddles U-570 with four 250 lb depth charges set to detonate at fifty feet. The boat heaves violently and rolls nearly completely over and all the lights go out. Smelling chlorine gas from mixing of battery acid and seawater, the crew in the after part of the submarine rush forward and seal off the engineering spaces.

-U-570 surfaces and the Hudson, without depth charges, strafes the boat four times but stops when the U-Boat displays makeshift white flags. Rahmlow transmits in the clear to BdU: “Am not able to dive. Being attacked by aircraft.”


- The Catalina is ordered to sink the U-boat if no surface vessels are on scene by sunset. Fortunately for the German crew, ASK trawler Northern Chief arrives in time. The British inform the Germans by signal light that if they attempt to scuttle, they will not be rescued and will be fired on in the water.

- U-82 is ordered to assist U-570, but is unable approach to due to saturation air coverage. Within twelve hours, four ASW trawlers and two destroyers are on scene.

- With difficulty, the British get a tow to the submarine and bring her to Iceland. She is repaired over a three week period at Hvalfjörður, and inspected by British and American submarine experts. One G7a torpedo is transported to the United States. Repair teams find that her damage is not heavy, and that a competent crew should have been able to escape the attacks.
U-570 beached Iceland 30 August 41

- U-570’s Kriegsmarine ensign will be presented the Hudson pilot and is now in the RAF Museum. Although all enigma and classified material was destroyed, the submarine itself yields valuable information. An American skipper comments that the rotating “bicycle” seat on the attack periscope is a sub captain’s dream. Her hydrophones are found to be six times more efficient than British phones. Her crew accommodations are roundly condemned as horrible, and likely to degrade crew performance.

- U-570 will also be the model for construction of full-sized mock-ups of the control compartment, wardroom and radio room of a Type VII U-boat. These will be used to train specialist groups of sailors, who will form boarding parties whenever a damaged U-boat is blown to the surface. Trained to operate a U-boat's ballast-tank valves, to reverse any scuttling attempts by the crew, they are also taught where to quickly search for cryptographic equipment and documents

- After the Admiralty objects to Churchill’s idea to give U-570 to the United States (considering it a provocative thing to do), she will be commissioned as HMS Graph and used for testing, ASW training, and anti-submarine patrols in the Bay of Biscay.
Left to right HMS Thrasher - HMS Surf - HMS Graph in 1943 at Holy Loch"


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  • 1 month later...

[80 years ago yesterday] "• Southwest of the Canary Islands, U-111 sights what Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Kleinschmidt takes to be a big coal burning freighter. He approaches and dives for a torpedo attack, dismissing reports from his hydrophone operator that the contact is small and very close.

- His target is in fact the ASW trawler Lady Shirley. A lookout had spotted U-111’s conning tower when Kleinschmidt thought the range was much longer than it really is. Lieutenant Commander Arthur Callaway, Australian Navy Reserve, heads for the U-boat and surprises Kleinschmidt by dropping depth charges close aboard, causing a leak aft.

- U-111 surfaces in Lady Shirley's wake and the Germans rush to man the deck and AA guns. Callaway turns to bring his 12-pounder gun to bear while his two Hotchkiss machine gunners open fire. Germans rushing to the 10.5cm gun are hit or forced to hide behind the conning tower. The gun crew for the deck mounted 3.7cm AA gun refuse to man it, with the gun captain feigning not being able to hear orders during the exchange of fire. The bridge 2cm is manned and opens fire on the trawler. For several minutes the ships lay side by side firing at each other. One of Lady Shirley's gunners is killed and four more crewmen are wounded but they kill seven Germans, including all three line officers when a 12 pounder shell hits the base of the periscope. A state of panic exists inside the u-boat and the engine compartment fills with smoke. A prospective commanding officer on a pre-command cruise comes onto the tower and sees crewmen throwing their hands up in surrender. He takes command of U-111 and orders scuttling procedures begun.



Surrender of U-111 to HMS Lady Shirley.

- Callaway orders fire checked as U-111 slows and more Germans come on deck with their hands in the air. U-111’s engineer officer opens the vents and the boat sinks for the last time. The triumphant Lady Shirley picks up 45 survivors (who outnumber the trawler crew 3:1), one of whom later dies from losing a leg. The trawler arrives at Gibraltar four days later where the entire crew is decorated and Callaway is awarded the DSO with Churchills personal congratulations.



HMS Lady Shirley. She will be torpedoed by U-374 near Gibraltar in December and lost with all hands.


[80 years ago today] "• The Kriegsmarine introduces a separate enigma cipher called “Triton” for Atlantic operations, which temporarily blinds Bletchley Park. Exhausted, Alan Turing and Gordon Welshman write Churchill directly spelling out the situation and asking for help. The organization had been kept small for security reasons, but has become swamped with work. Churchill responds by giving them extreme priority for manpower.

• A Coastal Command Blenheim attacks the outbound U-563 in the Bay of Biscay but mistakenly drops only one 250 lb A/S bomb instead of both on the crash diving u-boat. It misses and does no damage. The Blehneim circles the area waiting for the submarine to reappear and spots U-565 which is returning to base. This time the bomb scores a direct hit on the conning tower but bounces off as a dud. The air crew claims a sinking based on U-565’s rapid descent, though the boat is undamaged.





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